Wi-Fi Alliance replaces ‘802.11’ naming scheme with version numbers

Bobby Hellard

4 Oct, 2018

Wi-Fi Alliance has simplified the names for Wi-Fi standards by dropping its complex code scheme, such as ‘802.11’.

Instead, the alliance has introduced single digit classifications, starting with ‘Wi-Fi 6’ which is the new designation for products and networks that support Wi-Fi based on 802.11ax technology.

The alliance hopes that Wi-Fi 6 will provide users with an easy-to-understand designation for both the Wi-Fi technology supported by their device and used in a connection the device makes with Wi-Fi networks.

“For nearly two decades, Wi-Fi users have had to sort through technical naming conventions to determine if their devices support the latest Wi-Fi,” said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance.

“Wi-Fi Alliance is excited to introduce Wi-Fi 6 and present a new naming scheme to help industry and Wi-Fi users easily understand the Wi-Fi generation supported by their device or connection.”

The new naming system will identify Wi-Fi generations in a numerical sequence that corresponds to major advancements in Wi-Fi. The generation names can be used by product vendors to identify the latest Wi-Fi technology a device supports, by operating system vendors to identify the Wi-Fi connection between a device and a network and by service providers to identify capabilities of a Wi-Fi network to their customers.

Wi-Fi Alliance said this new terminology may also be used to differentiate previous generations, such as 802.11n or 802.11ac. The numerical sequence includes Wi-Fi 6 and also Wi-Fi 5 to identify devices that support 802.11ac technology and Wi-Fi 4 to identify devices that support 802.11n technology.

The change has already been welcomed by the tech industry, including Lissa Hollinger, VP of marketing for Hewlett Packard’s Aruba: “We applaud this effort by Wi-Fi Alliance to simplify the terminology used to differentiate between the different generations of technologies as it will help users more quickly and easily discern the technology their particular device or network supports.”